Monday, December 28, 2015

Exporting & Importing Outlook Data Files to / from a PST File

Outlook is a powerful email application installed on a computer, unless using Office 365, that provides more features and customizations than most webmail applications.  Outlook offers advanced ways to organize emails, create email handling rules, schedule and calendar events, track tasks and more.  An important feature Outlook provides is its ability to sync with Internet based email accounts, or email besides those supported by Microsoft Exchange servers.  Outlook can sync with most Internet based email accounts including but not limited to:
  • Gmail
  • Hotmail
  • Comcast email
  • AT&T / Yahoo mail
  • AOL email
  • Personalized business email accounts
Outlook stores emails, email folders and subfolders, calendar items and tasks in a data file on the local computer.  However, there are times when it is necessary to export this data file in whole or in part.  The following situations are examples when it is helpful to export an Outlook data file to a .pst file:
  • Switching to a new computer / adding an additional computerWhen switching to a new computer, or adding an additional computer, it can be easier to export the data file to a .pst file and import it into the new computer rather than downloading all the emails again.  Downloading a large data file can take longer based on Internet speeds available.  Also, if items other than email are tracked in Outlook and not in the webmail application, these items will be lost if not exported and imported into Outlook on the new or additional computer.
  • Backing up the data file - If the Outlook data file is not backed up, exporting it to a .pst file stored in an external location can provide a backup solution.  NOTE:  Using this as a backup solution can work but it is important to remember to export the data file on a regular basis and store the .pst file on reliable physical media stored in a safe, offsite location.
  • Restoring email when an email server fails - Restoring email by exporting individual data files to multiple .pst files in the event of a server failure takes time but can save money.  As a last resort to recover email before paying high fees to a data recovery service, email can often be restored via Outlook.  Whether the crash was caused by server hardware, drives, or a combination of both, exporting an Outlook data file to a .pst file can provide a way to "recover" lost email when an email server suffers from a catastrophic loss.
To export an Outlook data file to a .pst file (In Outlook 2013)
  • Open Outlook and click the File tab.
  • Select "Open & Export".
  • Click "Import / Export" from the list on the right.

  • In the Import and Export Wizard select "Export to a file" and click "Next".

  • Choose "Outlook Data File (.pst)" in the file type menu and click "Next".

  • In the Export Outlook Data File window choose which folder to export.  To export the Inbox, subfolders including deleted and sent items all at once, select the email address as the folder to export and click "Next".  To export a single folder, select the desired folder and click "Next".
    • Be sure to check the box next to "Include subfolders".
    • Note:  Calendars and password protected folders are separate data files and as such need to be exported individually using the same export process.  Read this post to create a secure folder in outlook.

  • In the second Export Outlook Data File menu select where to save the .pst file, choose how to handle duplicate items and click "Finish".
    • Accept the default location to save the .pst file or click the "Browse" button to select a preferred location like the Desktop.
    • Select how to handle duplicate items.  Choosing to replace duplicates means items already exported will be updated when the current data file is exported.  Choosing to allow duplicates means both previously exported and new versions of items in the data file will exist.  Choosing not to export duplicate items means items previously exported will not be exported again and will remain unchanged.
  • The export process begins and the .pst file will appear in the folder chosen.

  • Larger data files take time to process and you may see progress windows during this process.  When the data file has been exported the window will disappear and the .tmp file created when the export started will be removed.

  • At any time, click the "Cancel" button to stop the export.
To import a .pst file into Outlook
  • Open Outlook and select the File tab.
  • Click "Open & Export".
  • Click "Import / Export" from the list on the right.
  • In the Import and Export Wizard select "Import from another program or file" and click "Next".

  • In the file type menu select "Outlook Data File (.pst)" and click "Next".  
  • In the Import Outlook Data File menu click "Browse" to select the .pst file to import.  Once the file is selected click "Open" then click "Next".

  • Check the box next to "Include subfolders" to import all folders and click "Finish".

Whatever the reason for exporting an Outlook data folder, to add an additional computer, as a backup solution or to recover data lost due to hardware failure, it is important to understand the process.  Understanding what each set of options means during the export and import process is an important part of achieving the intended results.  Ultimately, importing a .pst after backing up a data file only to find the correct data was not exported is a waste of time.

As always, it is important to protect data.  Knowing how to do this is critical!


  1. if you want to extract emails from Outlook pst file and don't have any idea about it then you should use pst repair software. it is a third party tool tha can easily fix this problem.

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  2. Recover all the lost/deleted/corrupted data files of Outlook. It provides you unique facility to recover all the damaged data along all personal folders & attachments. It's demo version gives you facility to view preview of all recovered data and software frequently save all the recovered data into PST, EML, MSG file format.

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  3. Thanks Kaye, this could be a good tool for an after the fact issue.

  4. I found an informative article related to How to Repair Outlook PST File. I would like to recommend this article to those users who's Outlook Data File has been corrupted and damaged.